Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Pause. Our loss. Moving Forward.

I am sure everyone has noticed the paucity of posts this week on the blog. The loss of our friend and co-religionist on the fronts of human rights, saving the dignity of being middle class in America, and many other important causes, has been felt deeply and leaves, as you have seen, an obvious hole. Dale Bowling we miss you.

In an effort to go on, we will be beginning a new column a few times a week called Sandy's Lighthouse. It is both transcription and commentary. Sandy Gresak, a Bloomindale Township Democrat and frequent volunteer, will be taking the news releases put out so diligently by Paul Sjordal (for nearly 5 years running) and plucking the most local stories and packaging them with her own commentary for your education and enjoyment.

So many good people have come through our doors over the years including Sandy and Paul Sjordal and, of course, Dale Bowling and we send out our appreciation for them and for everyone who finds their niche and pursues it to make the DPDC stronger.

Amy Rohrer, Executive Director, DPDC

If you would like to receive the undigested form of Paul's Daily emails, please contact him at

Monday, March 25, 2013

Early Voting Has Started. A reminder from Lisle Trustee Candidate Kay Page

Did you know that Early Voting started today? Starting Monday, March 25th, at select locations throughout DuPage County, you can cast your ballot for the April 9th election. There are early voting locations in the cities of Addison, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Darien, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Naperville, and in Wheaton at the Board of Elections. You can even cast your vote at the Yorktown Shopping Center!  
Click the link below and scroll to the bottom of the page to get a pdf with the exact locations and times.

Don't wait until April 9th - go to the polls early and vote Page for Lisle Township Trustee.

It is important that when you go to the polls you take a loved one, a friend, or a neighbor with you. Remind your co- workers, your spouse, and your children about the important role local government plays in their lives. Remind your significant other, the woman at the bank, or the man in the grocery store that voting is a right, but more importantly a privilege that we should not take for granted. Only by all of us working together and making our voices heard can we implement the change that we want to see in Lisle Township.

I ask for your support. I ask for your vote.

Kaleshia “Kay” Page
Candidate for Lisle Township Trustee
If you would like to donate a small amount to support me in delivering my message, please go here

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Heavy hearts at the passing of Dale Bowling

After making his last post here on the DPDC blog on Monday the 18th, Dale Bowling, the man responsible for truly revitalizing this blog with so many timely, intellectually stimulating and sensitive blog posts, took his life after a long period of depression.
The sadness we feel for his family and for our Democratic family at the loss of this deeply insightful and caring person is not speakable. Please read his Monday blog piece, feel his words and, if you would, offer a moment to send gratitude to the Universe for the time he was here and healing to his friends and family as they move toward a different future than they had planned.
If you have questions or would like to do something more, please write to me at the email and I will be in touch.

Amy Rohrer, Executive Director, DPDC

Monday, March 18, 2013

Austerity Groupthink

By: Dale Bowling

I read two opinion pieces today that really spoke to me. Maybe because they say what I've been saying for a very long time.

The first is Paul Krugman's op-ed in the New York Times on groupthink in the Iraq War. His observation was how all non-insider, anti-Iraq War opinions, interpretations and analyses by experts and by journalists were marginalized as not being serious enough about the threat of non-existant WMDs. It was because the people "in the know" were so sure they were "in the know" on Iraq that anyone who had a different take wasn't considered credible. We know now, of course that those who were "in the know" were actually "full of crap."

Krugman then takes this example and applies it to the question of the non-existant fiscal crisis. The Deficit has been brought down by spending cuts and revenue increases amounting to $2 Trillion. We are now at a historically sustainable level of debt. But groupthink says we still need to worry tremendously about debt and balance the budget, even though we've almost never in American history had a balanced budget. For debt to be sustainable, it only has to increase slower than economic growth and we were actually there, before the Sequester - which threatens to create exactly the kind of crisis that it was supposed to avoid. Hope you have a taste for irony.

The second opinion piece was Greg Sargent's piece in the Washington Post,, which shows that people support a decrease of government spending in the abstract, but when spending is decreased people don't really like it and they blame the party they think is doing that. So Sargent thinks this is bad for Republicans to push austerity because it will only blow up in their face.

These are both really good reads and I urge you to check them out.

The moral of the story is that there is a discrepancy between reality and people's ideas about what reality is. Reality shows that we were at a sustainable level of debt because it was growing slower than the economy as a whole. But perception has been that the Deficit represents a big problem that can only be solved by cutting back on government spending. The funny thing is that while that seems like what Americans want, when it happens they don't really want it at all.

So there is a phony debt crisis. America thinks Congress needs to do something about it. When Congress does, America doesn't like it.

If we funneled the resources we normally would use to try to correct the non-existant debt crisis to actually deal with the job crisis, America would be in a lot better shape.

The President himself recently expressed his interest and sense of urgency in spending money to help alleviate the employment crisis.

Who do you suppose is going to prevent that from happening? People who are claiming to be Deficit Hawks, but really are against government investment in America no matter how advantageous it proves to be.

So we as Democrats need to explain to whomever will listen that the deficit crisis is over. What we need to work on at this point is the job crisis. We will put America to work by concentrating on this real crisis, and save America from the waste of combatting a crisis that doesn't exist.

As I have said many times. what America needs now is a big infrastructure bill that will rebuild America. It will grow employment, expand the economy and leave behind a world class infrastructure that will serve to futher economic expansion in the 21st Century.

Democrats need to champion that. It will save America.

The Republican vision of the future now rests on cutting more that Americans don't want cut and hoping that the Private sector will see it in their heart to invest in America.

This hope is what has kept us in slow growth mode for the last few years. America deserves better.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What better Day to GO GREEN than this?

My Pledge for a Healthier DuPage. Number 2 in a series 

Every now and then, we will be posting blogs in a series that relate to one of three qualities that we, as Democrats, strive to bring to our county and nation. We'll  give some tips on how you can help us get to these goals, together, just a step at a time.

In the same way that it came to pass that DuPage was ripe for the election of 17 Democrats where before there were but 2, we can also create a healthier DuPage to leave to our kids and grandkids.


Just pick one of these that you will try to work into your life habits this week.

1) I will plant a tree in my backyard, my community or through an organization such as American Forests ( Many municipalities list cost share programs in the spring and fall to put trees in the parkway. Go to your town's website to find out.

2) I will use a reusable mug when purchasing coffee or tea from outside vendors.

3) I will reduce my at-home water usage by seeking out ways to conserve water. Suggested actions can be found at

4) As old appliances need replacement, I will look for more efficient models with the Energy Star label.

5) I will donate to organizations that support, preserve and work to improve the environment:
Take this list for a little ride!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Explaining Why You're A Democrat To Your Nine Year Old.

By: Dale Bowling

My wife and I were talking about current events and government policies and my 9 year old asked a question that every father dreads having to answer: if my political party's ideas are "true", or is that just my opinion?

I gave the best answer I could, which was some combination of the two. I doubt it satisfied his desire for a definitive answer, but it didn't provoke any further inquiries on his part.

But the question made me think a lot about what makes me a Democrat in the first place. And as I found myself trying to put it together in my mind, I found the question was less about "Truth" and more about "truths" and what they mean to me.

Let's take the example of the Bush Tax Cuts. Good idea, bad idea? If the idea was to stimulate job creation, then bad idea: Bush had the worse numbers on job creation of any President since Herbert Hoover - even before the onset of the Bush Recession. John Kerry hammered Bush on that point in the 2004 election. But if the idea was to make Rich People even richer, then Mission Accomplished. Great idea.

Both of these are truths. Didn't create jobs. Made the Rich richer. Which one is important to me depends on my values and what kind of America I want to hand off to my children.

Do I want an America that only creates opportunities for those who already have plenty? No.

Has that made America great in the past? No.

Do I want my 12 year old daughter and my 9 year old son to live in an America where the if you've had a bad break or were born without advantages, you're just screwed?  No.

That would mean they're just a bad break away from being totally screwed, wouldn't it? We all would be then, wouldn't we?

So while truth alone is on our side, it only tells part of the story. Yes, Democrats believe in evaluating things by whether they work and are true and not just expedient. But ultimately, Democrats are values-based. He want a better, stronger, fairer America. And we support policies that are in line with reality and truly going to get us there.

Thank you Sean for asking the question.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Awesome Quote of the Day

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Are Moderate Republicans Actually Democrats in Elephant's Clothing?

By Dale Bowling

Indulge me for a moment while I tell you about my best friend. My best friend is a smart guy who thinks deeply about issues. He is a Republican, but we agree on maybe 80% of issues, more or less. He's a firearms enthusiast, but supports universal background checks. He's a farmer, but is concerned about the environmental impact of agricultural run-off into drainage ditches.  He believes in evolution, a woman's right to choose, and marriage equality. He likes to know the facts of the issue and positions of the candidate before he votes.

Conservatives have a word for people like my best friend: RINO (Republican in Name Only). They're implying that you have to be like Bush, Cheney, Boehner, and Ryan with a touch of Limbaugh to be considered a real Republican.

In the Good Ol' Days there were both middle-of-the-road Republicans and moderate Democrats. The work of the country got done primarily because they shared more similarities than differences.  These similarities allowed them to easily reach across the aisle to compromise on most issues.

But the moderates have been slowly turned out of the Republican Party. Centrist Republican lawmakers lose primary battles to Tea Partiers more often than not these days and extreme positions have replaced more measured ones across the board. I remember in 1996 when then Republican presidential candidate, Bob Dole wanted a plank in the GOP platform permitting one to be both pro-choice and Republican. Guess what did not get added to the Republican Party Platform in 1996? That was seventeen years ago and the situation has become much worse since then.

I wrote last week that the main problem with the House leadership is how out of touch with American public opinion they have become on practically every issue. The abandonment of their own centrists is one of the principle reasons for this. Conservatives increasingly portray the moderates of their own party as Democrats in Elephant's clothing. And in a weird way, they're right. Independent voters and moderate Republicans increasingly vote with the Democrats because as the GOP has retreated to the Right, the Democratic Party has come to represent those left behind in the middle. Moderates want their voices heard and they know that only one party is listening.

So I would exhort all of you to work on your moderate Republican friends. Gently point out that their opinions are more in line with ours than with their own party.  They may resist somewhat. They probably have an nostalgic attachment to the Grand Old Party of yesteryear. Remind them that they're not leaving the Republican Party, the GOP left them - a long time ago.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Only Shared Sacrifice Can Bring Back Middle-Class America

By Dale Bowling

Many of us witnessed and participated in the creation of Middle-Class America in the 50s, 60s, 70s. It was a society based on wide prosperity.

Taxes were high. They had to be. It was high taxes that kept the Rich from accumulating too much of the Nation's wealth at the expense of everyone else - like they had in every other time in American history. But for all the high taxes, the Rich managed to stay plenty Rich and continued in invest in America.

Unions were strong. Unions protected workers' rights on the job and allowed for them to share in wealth that came from their productivity gains. Organized Labor helped even non-union workers get a fair shake from management.  The Labor Movement elevated workers to middle-class status. Workingmen and women became more than just a pair of hands, they became Americans.

And the Social Safety Net was there to catch those who fell through the cracks - the sick, the elderly, the unlucky, and give them another shot at a decent life.  For the first time in American history the Vulnerable weren't on their own.

Never before in American history had the average person great a chance to succeed. In the past if you were born to humble circumstances, you died humbly. Access to government educational loans changed that. A lot of people came back from the War and went to college on the GI Bill. And this human capital produced an unprecedented economic boom that roared on for decades.

Today we are witnessing the demise of Middle-Class America. Bit by precious bit, it has been dismantled and relegated to the dustbin of history.

Growing inequality undermines the fabric of a society based on wide prosperity. The deck is increasingly stacked against the less privileged and each generation in America sees its future just a little more stunted as a result.

Everything that built Middle-Class America has been under attack for decades. Everything that could build a middle-class resurgence has been blocked, filibustered, cut, starved, dismantled, deregulated, and sequestered into oblivion.

Middle-Class America rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the Great Depression and World War II, mainly because the Depression and the War showed that America thrives when everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share. Shared sacrifice built Middle-Class America.  Only shared sacrifice can bring it back.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Remembering the Iraq War: 10 years

By Dale Bowling

Sunday, March 10 marks a full decade since the US invaded Iraq. President Bush, egged on by Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, decided that those WMDs that Saddam had squirreled away weren't going to find themselves and we shouldn't wait until "the smoking gun becomes a mushroom cloud." It was a line so good that both Bush and Condolezza Rice used it at varying times.

Hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later, we know that there weren't any WMDs in Iraq to find. Later inquiries would turn up such gems that US intelligence on Iraq largely depended on dubious informants and that there was plenty of solid evidence that no WMDs existed at all.

But in March, 2003 we weren't hearing any of that. All we were hearing was "mushroom cloud", "slam dunk", "anthrax", "mobile weapons labs".

The people who got us into this mess argued at the time that Iraq's oil wealth could finance its own reconstruction and this would be very cheap for the US (a few billion dollars) and we would be greeted as liberators with "Sweets and Flowers".

Well it didn't happen that way, did it?

None of this business would fly now. For one thing, we're not in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, so the fear and paranoia that allowed the Iraq War to go through on the word of the Bush Administration doesn't exist anymore.

The atmosphere of Post 9/11 Cooperation is gone, too. Then, both parties were united against terrorism and a very substantial number of Democrats voted in favor of the resolution to invade Iraq- including Secretaries of State, Clinton and Kerry. These Democrats took the Bush Administration and the Intelligence community at its word that their evidence was sound. Can you imagine the Mitch McConnells or the John Boehners of the world following Obama into such a poorly sourced military adventure today? Not likely.

The Iraq War has been called a lot of things. Thomas Ricks, titled his book about the Iraq War, Fiasco. I have alternatively heard it called a debacle, a disaster, and most benignly, an intelligence failure. Usually it's Republicans who call it that.

We have heard about the billions of dollars of taxpayer money that simply went missing, how America's credibility as a World Leader was compromised, about the senseless violence that ended thousands of lives and about the trillions of dollars that were added to the deficit to pay for all this. We've heard how the Bush Administration didn't bother to create a plan for the post-Saddam Iraq until Saddam had already fallen. By then, the country had fallen into lawlessness, arms plants had been looted and Iraqis had lost faith in the American occupation.

Fiasco indeed.

Ultimately, the Iraq War stands as a monument to human hubris and Man's capacity for self-deception. The Neocons' idea that they could "create their own realities" seems so ludicrous today, precisely because it was ludicrous. But the people making the decisions had decided to ignore that.

When we examine such issues as Climate Change, Immigration, Reproductive Rights, Gun Control, etc., let's think about the lessons of the Iraq War and never, ever allow Ideology to trump Evidence again.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Founding Fathers Supported Religious Freedom, Not Religious Tyranny

By Dale Bowling

Lately the headlines have been all about how terrible the sequester is- and trust me, it is terrible. There's been back and forth about gun laws. Immigration. Some climate change things. There have been some gotchas back and forth and the regular course of phony outrage coming from one side or the other. Well from one side anyway. But in all, there has been a tiny controversy that you probably haven't read about.

The American Atheists put up a billboard with a picture of Sarah Palin and misquoted her. The billboard had Mrs. Palin saying that "We should create law based on the God of the Bible". They had quotation marks and everything. But as it turns out that was not a direct quote, merely a summation of what the Founding Fathers were saying in her opinion. The American Atheists have since corrected their error.

There are several morals of this story. One, the American Atheists were wrong to put quotes around that as if she said those very words. She did not. Had they left off the quotes, they would have been absolutely right. That was the point she was making because if one reads the entire unhinged rant quote from her, it's obvious that she agrees with that.

The second moral almost goes without saying: Sarah Palin doesn't know what the hell she's talking about.

The Founding Fathers made lots of public statements about God and Providence. That is true. But the Bible did not serve an inspiration for law in this country and the Founders worked diligently to prevent one religious faction from making the others do as it did. There were two reasons for that.

One was the sheer impossibility of it. There were dozens of sects in the United States at the advent of the Republic and no one group had the upper hand so as to force the others to do as they did. The coalition that made up America was plenty fragile enough without alienating one religious group over another by promoting uniform Biblical interpretations. The Early Republic had enough on its plate without opening that Pandora's Box.

The other reason lies in the shared history of the Founders of our Republic. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (recent history to the Founding Fathers) had seen unprecedented carnage in the name of religion. Name the European country and it had been riven with war and destruction over what the Bible meant. The Thirty Years' War of the seventeenth century produced the most deaths of any war in human history until WWI. It took decades for western Germany to recover from it. It was this war that sent a lot of German immigrants to Pennsylvania, our Pennsylvania Dutch. Many Massachusetts settlers had ended up here because of the religious instability in England. Scotch-Irish, the second largest ethnicity in America, had largely fled Ulster over demands they conform to English religious practice. Maryland was settled by English Catholics fleeing persecution. French Protestants left France in droves after religious toleration ended there. A lot of them came here, where they could go to church in peace without anyone telling them what to do or what to believe. And even a few Jews arrived here, leaving behind a life where they lived in constant fear of what the authorities or the local populace might do to them because of their religious beliefs.

America was a haven, a virtual paradise for religious refugees. No one told people how to worship here. They weren't taxed to support someone else's religion as was the norm in Europe. They could do as they pleased. The Founding Fathers sought to support that, not upend it by mandating what people should believe by basing law on their own Biblical interpretations.

Jefferson famously stated that it didn't matter to him whether his neighbor had twenty gods or no god. It didn't "pick my pocket or break my leg". Madison was the one who created the phrase "wall of separation of church and state".  Adams said that the whole of religion was to "be good". These were not zealots.

The Founding Fathers believed that religious matters were personal. That no one group should tell the others how to live their lives - because they remembered what a disaster that had been in Europe.

It is not the business of government to tell other people what to believe in terms of religion. What sort of tyranny would that be? What would that say to people who do not worship the "God of the Bible" to be bound by laws derived from Him? It would say, "you're just not quite as American as the rest of us". That is what it would say.

The problem is that a great many people who currently talk about religious freedom believe that they can't have religious freedom unless they make everyone else do as they would do.

That's actually called religious tyranny and that was what our Founding Fathers were attempting to avoid.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Republican Leadership Is Out of Touch

By Dale Bowling

In the past week, three very different media events took place.

1) Mitt Romney gave his first interview since his drubbing in the November election. He and Ann Romney talked with Chris Wallace from Fox News and he reflected on why he lost the election. His take was that shiftless folks (especially minorities) really like the goodies like Obamacare that they get for free from government. Ann alternately blames the media for not showing the "Real Mitt" and the people for not getting to know the "Real Mitt". (In the interest of time, I will omit the zinger that one of those Mitts must have been the real one.)

2) House Speaker Boehner rejected the President's position that a balanced mixture of revenue increases from eliminating tax loopholes (which Republicans previously said they were all for) and targeted spending cuts would be better for the Nation than relying on across-the-board spending cuts alone. When polled of 76% of Americans (including 56% of Republicans) say they are in favor of the Democrats' balanced approach to deficit reduction.

These two events were well-publicized, but the third one flew in under the radar.

3) In a recent poll, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press asked respondents about the two parties. The results showed that 62% of respondents said the Republican Party was out of touch with the American people. 52% said the GOP was too extreme. And most shockingly, only 45% said that the Republican Party looks out for America's future.

These three separate media events provide us with two very valuable lessons.

One is that the Republican leadership is in such deep denial and has become so far removed from what matters to Americans that they don't even represent their own voters anymore in a lot of cases, much less the rest of us.

The other is that they have become incapable of, or perhaps simply not interested in reading the writing on the wall. They had their heads handed to them in November. Do they retool? No. Do they say, hey we're going to really listen to what our constituents are saying? No. They continue to double down on the same ideas that Americans already have soundly rejected. Why?

Because they can't reject those ideas and still be Republicans. They have defined themselves by their terrible ideas. If they reject those terrible ideas now, what do they become? Democrats. 

Pick any issue: Voters are overwhelmingly on the side of Democrats. Independents voted Democratic by a wide margin in the last election and even the majority of Republican voters back the Democratic postion on background checks for firearm purchases, legalizing gay marriage, and deficit reduction through both revenue and spending cuts.

My advice to the Republican Leadership comes from Bob Dylan - "Your old road is rapidly agin', Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand. For the Times they are a changin'".

Monday, March 4, 2013

Roskam to 6th District: "HAHA To VAWA"

By Walt Zlotow
We in Illinois' 6th Congressional District can always count on Congressman Peter Roskam: he always lets us down. Whether voting against a tax decrease for the middle class because it contained a tiny tax bump for the greedy rich, opposing hurricane relief for northeast victims of Sandy, or now, re-authorizing VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) because it extends needed protections for lesbians, gay men and women on Indian reservations, Roskam always votes against the Public Interest.

For the third time House since December, House Speaker Boehner allowed important legislation to move off the House floor to passage without a majority of his divided party because he's desperately trying to salvage the Republican brand tarnished by unconscionable stands of virtually every issue affecting America. But Congressman HAHA will have none of it. He joined the GOP majority of 137 other Republicans in a symbolic vote against re-authorizing this critical legislation, adopted in 1994 but allowed to expire in 2011. VAWA provides funding for programs that help prosecute sexual assault and domestic abuse cases and assist crime victims. The only down side to the current re-authorization is that annual funding for the next 5 years was cut by 135 million, 17% less than its last re-authorization in 2005.

What is particularly cynical and reprehensible about Roskam's vote is his typical tactic of pretending to support important legislation he opposes. I checked Roskam's web site for his take on the issue and was surprised to find a video clip of him praising the House version of this important bill, emphatic that sexual and domestic abuse against women will not be tolerated. Was I imagining his positive support? Turns out that the Roskam video was from May 18, 2012, and was a pitch for the much more water-downed House version which was soundly rejected by a strong bi-partisan consensus in the Senate - the one Roskam voted against. To hear Roskam respond to two female constituents' questions, he is women's Lord Protector whose VAWA version will prevent bad ol' Uncle Sam from creating a backlog of rape kits in sexual assault cases. Check out this hilarious, but truly sad video at, typing VAWA in search box.

How about a little candor and honesty from the Congressman. He should take down his silly nine month old video and replace it with this announcement:

"I voted against VAWA because I couldn't care less about extending its benefits to lesbians, gay men, undocumented immigrants, Indian women on reservations, and transgender youth. Besides, passage of the Senate version only insures that there will be an increased backlog of rape kit analysis. Seriously, I'm not kidding. I'm Congressman Peter Roskam, and I've approved this policy statement".

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Stronger, fairer and healthier; my pledge

These are some of the adjectives that fit what we at DPDC are hoping for our nation and our county.
Every now and then, we will be posting blogs in a series that relate to one of these qualities and give some tips on how you can help us get to these goals, together, just a step at a time. In the same way that it came to pass that DuPage was ripe for the election of 17 Democrats where before there were but 2, we can also create a healthier DuPage to leave to our kids and grandkids.

HEALTHIER: 1 in a series of MANY

If you can pledge to do just one thing on this list, we are all on our way.

1) I will use fewer chemically-based products in my home, including home cleaning and personal care products.

2) I will line-dry my clothes as often as possible and try to halve the number of times I use my dryer per week.

3) I will use fewer trash bags and will reduce, reuse, and recycle more so that less unwanted stuff ends up in the landfill.

4) I will consider composting in this upcoming season.

5) I will stop using plastic bags at the grocery stores. I will keep reusable bags in my car and hang a reminder on my rearview mirror so I will see it before I get out of my car.

JUST ONE! We'll post a few more to try in a few weeks!
While you are in the pledging mood, why not become a sustaining member of the Democratic Party of DuPage County? You can contribute as little as $5 a month. GO here and enroll now.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Awesome Quote of the Day

“I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it.” 

- Paul Krugman

Friday, March 1, 2013

Spiritual Diversity in Congress Grows


The United States Congress became a bit more spiritually diverse in 2013 as the newly-elected representatives took their oaths in January. In the November elections, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard became the first Hindu-American elected to the House for Hawaii's 2nd District. The 31 year old woman was the first to take the oath of office with her hand on the Bhagavad Gita, the holy scripture of Vaishnava Hindus.

Also in Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, (also a Democrat) was elected to become the first Buddhist in the Senate. Hirono was born in Japan and practices Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Two Muslims also serve in the U.S. House. Historically, the election of these women adds to the Jews, Mormons and Sikhs who have served in Congress before them and reflects the evolving nature of our country's religious makeup.